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A leaked diary from a Catholic cardinal who took part in the conclave that elected Joseph Ratzinger as Pope Benedict XVI demonstrates that secrets have a short shelf life in modern society. Under threat of excommunication, cardinals have always kept the machinations of such conclaves as quiet as the grave. That changed with the election of the second-straight non-Italian pope after 450 years of Italian hegemony over the Church, and an Italian cardinal appears to be the source:
A cardinal has broken his vow of secrecy and released his diary describing the conclave that elected Pope Benedict XVI, revealing in an exceedingly rare account that a cardinal from Argentina was the main challenger and almost blocked Benedict's election.
Excerpts of the diary, published Friday, show Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger led in each of the four ballots cast in the Sistine Chapel during the mystery-shrouded April 18-19 conclave. But, in a surprise, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, a Jesuit, was in second place the whole time.
It took four ballots to elect Ratzinger, as already generally known. However, he did not garner a huge amount of support. He only received 85 votes, well below what the last two Popes are believed to have received from their conclaves. The information will likely undermine to some extent the idea of a massive mandate for conservative counterreform within the Church, especially a rollback of post-Vatican II changes that brought the Catholics closer to other Christian denominations in common practices.
It also noted that Bernard Cardinal Law, the former Boston prelate that got banished back to Rome for his handling of the sexual abuse scandals, received a vote for Pope on the final ballot.
The Italian journalist who published the diaries hinted to the AP that his source "spoke Italian", which probably means that the cardinal who wrote the diaries represented Italy. The conclave had 20 Italian cardinals, including Cardinal Tettamanzi, who was considered a front-runner as the conclave opened nine days after John Paul the Great's death. The numbers in the diary show that the Italians themselves either didn't consider Italianness to be a deciding factor or split their vote too many ways for it to become a factor. However, given their half-millenium claim on the papacy, this sudden leak about a secret conclave, one with grave repercussions if caught, that motivation cannot easily be discounted.
Whatever motivated the cardinal in question, it comes as a sad commentary that even the princes of the church cannot be trusted with secrets any longer, except those which specifically benefit themselves.Sphere It View blog reactions
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